The first open sea traverse awaited us the next day: 24km to the south shore of Yoron Island. Starting into a ripply sea an hour before dawn, it was already hot and stuffy when the low island became barely visible ahead through the day’s humid haze. The traverse was easy but monotonous and hot testing our morale. Contrary to our expectations, each of the four traverses on our route turned out to be quite different in character. This one was perhaps psychologically the most difficult, and as we slowly approached the coastal bluffs, it seemed that although they gradually gained form, the shore was not getting any closer. Slowed by a current from the left (which turned out to be a permanent feature of all the crossings) and thwarted by waves a bit too large to allow a landing, we skirted the coast until we found an artificial channel through the reef that led into a fishing harbor. Finally landing on a picturesque beach, we at once realized we’d come to one of the most beautiful islands in Japan.
Inside the wide shallow lagoon formed by the reef, it was easy to round the southeast corner of Yoron. After a stop at an unpretentious beachside restaurant, we headed about a kilometer off the east coast to Yurigahama, an extensive area of shallow water and white sand. Low tide had exposed the sandbar in some places, and a jet-ski was seen towing a few beachgoers there on an inflatable contraption (kayaks were once for rent, we were told, but these were not very popular since they were “too slow”). The water was crystal clear, and the bright, shallow sea stretching out far around us was a delight to behold.